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When I first started the blog I wrote that I wanted to introduce you to ordinary members of the “prostate cancer club. ”  Burney Huff, who is shown in the picture above vacationing in Homer, Alaska with his wife, Leigh, is one of my favorites.  Burney, 65, was diagnosed with PC in 1995, had RT in 2000 and is currently on hormone therapy, fighting a rising PSA (.23).  But what is extraordinary about Burney is how he is able to compartmentalize his life — to concentrate on enjoying and making the most of every single day.  In order to do this, he sets the PC in the back of his mind.  Makes a deliberate effort not to think about it.  He succeeds, Burney says, except for a minor flare-up of nerves around PSA testing time.  So to me Burney Huff is a living example of how you can survive and even thrive with advanced PC.

My favorite thing about Burney is that he is such a gentleman.  You know, there is such a thing as a “glass ceiling” in some of the online PC newsgroups.  As a woman awash in a sea of men, you can only go so far, and I accept that.  But occasionally I got picked on in the group Burney and I belonged to, and when that happened, Burney would always jump right in and say something nice about me!  Chivalry is not dead.

Burney and his wife live in Washington state, not sure where, but all of it is God’s country.  While he is retired, Leigh is not, and she has a work assignment to complete in Alaska for several months.  So Burney is keeping her company there.  They have been sightseeing and I included a picture Burney sent of an eider (duck) that looks so real you can almost touch it.  Burney’s hobby is photography, and he’s pretty good at it.

Then there are the grandkids to play with.  There is Leigh’s grandson Gunnar, who is 7 years old (this is a second marriage for Burney). Burney also has an adorable granddaughter, Sarah, whose Daddy teaches at West Point, so he comes to our neck of the woods once in a while.

There’s nothing sexier, in my opinion, than a man in an apron.  And Burney fits that description.  He likes to cook and shared with me some of his favorite recipes.  I chose the Tamale Pie because it is rich in capsaicins, which are good for fighting PC.  I am quoting from an article that appeared two years ago: “Pepper component hot enough to trigger suicide in prostate cancer cells” (March 15, 2006 issue of Cancer Research).  Burney recently prepared the tamale pie for Leigh so she’d have a hot meal when she came home from work.  Here is his recipe:

Tamale Pie  (makes 6 servings) 

Filling

1 ½ pounds ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 cups (16 oz) red enchilada sauce (hot variety)

1 cup whole kernel corn

1 can (2 ¼ oz.) sliced ripe olives, drained

¼ tsp crushed red pepper

1 tsp. salt 

Crust

2 ¼ cups yellow corn meal

2 cups water

1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk

1 tsp. salt

1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles

½ cup (2 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

Sliced jalapenos 

For Filling

Cook beef, onion, and garlic in a large skillet until beef is browned: drain.  Stir in enchilada sauce, corn, olives, crushed red pepper, and salt. 

For Crust

Preheat oven to 425° F.  Grease 12 x 8 inch baking dish. 

Combine corn meal, water, evaporated milk, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Cook medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for 5 – 7 minutes or until thickened.  (Watch carefully to avoid letting mixture get too thick.  If it does get too thick to spread easily, stir in enough hot water to get spreadable consistency.)  Stir in chiles.  Reserve 2 cups of corn meal mixture and cover with plastic wrap.  Spread remaining corn meal mixture on bottom and up sides of prepared baking dish. 

Bake for 10 minutes.  Cool in dish on wire rack.  Spoon beef filling into corn meal crust.  Spread reserved corn meal mixture over beef filling. 

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake for 5 – 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Garnish with jalapenos. 

Variations: 

Instead of ground beef, use two, 12-oz. cans of roast beef or chicken.  Break chunks into shreds with fingers. 

For more heat, mix a finely diced jalapeno pepper in filling, or increase red pepper.